Get ready – Rhody hoops is about to get fun. If the season ended right now, the Rhode Island Rams would be heading to Brooklyn as part of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Unfortunately, the season is a long way from over. But tonight, the Rams will get the chance to improve their position in the standings as head back to the Ryan Center to take on another A-10 opponent. The students are back on campus and the excitement surrounding the team is high following last week’s win, so let’s hope Hurley and Co are playing in front of a packed house tonight. Let’s have a look at tonight’s opponent:
George Washington University
Location: Washington, D.C.
Conference: Atlantic 10
2012-13 Record: 8-9 (2-2)
The Colonials are one of just five teams (including Rhody) in the Atlantic 10 that have a below .500 record overall, but a closer inspection indicates that they might be a little better than that. Sure, they’ve lost to teams like Youngstown State, Mount St. Mary’s, and Bradley. But they’ve also played many of their tougher opponents close, losing by just three to Kansas State, by three to Rutgers, and by only two points to Temple. GW is also coming off a win versus a tough UMass team, and their other conference victory came against St. Bonaventure (who by the way beat Temple over the weekend). Parity! In their match up last season, the Colonials defeated URI 69-61, but GW has an entirely different starting five this season, so maybe don’t put too much stock into that.
Projected Starting Lineups
G: Joe McDonald, Fr, #22, 6’1″, 183
G: Kethan Savage, Fr, #11, 6’3″, 201
G: Patricio Garino, Fr, #13, 6’5″, 203
F: Isaiah Armwood, Jr, #32, 6’9″, 210
F: Kevin Larsen, Fr, #21, 6’10″, 264
G: Mike Powell, So, #1, 5’11″, 175
G: Xavier Munford, Jr, #5, 6’2″, 180
G: Andre Malone, Sr, #12, 6’6″, 210
F: Nikola Malesevic, Sr, #23, 6’7″, 200
C: Jordan Hare, Fr, #4, 6’10″, 205
The key for the Rams tonight will be containing big man Isaiah Armwood. The 6’9″ junior not only leads the Colonials in scoring at 12.0 points per game, but he’s also tops in rebounding (8.5), blocks (2.8) and field goal percentage (52.3 percent). Armwood has posted double-figure point totals in 11 of GW’s 18 games, and he leads the team with five double-doubles on the season. UMass was able to contain him somewhat, limiting him to just eight points last time out. But in that game, he also chipped in seven rebounds, a pair of blocks, and a season-high five assists. Armwood is dangerous on both ends of the floor, and the combination of Malesevic, Brooks, and Hare (and Aaman, if he’s healthy) will have to work on limiting his production.
Another GW player to keep an eye on is point guard Joe McDonald. While the freshman only averages 7.1 points per game, he can distribute the ball well, leading the team with 3.4 assists. He’s also coming off a monster effort versus UMass as he led the Colonials with 16 points and 10 assists. While McDonald only shot 3-8 from the field, he got a majority of his points from the free-throw line, shooting 10-13 from the stripe. He also only had two turnovers to go along with the 10 dimes, so he can be dangerous when the ball is in his hands. Mike Powell and T.J. Buchanan have their work cut out for them.
The Colonials start FOUR freshmen and obviously have a different look this year. They turn the ball over a fair amount, averaging 16 per game, so let’s hope a tenacious Rhody defense can force some mistakes. This is certainly a winnable game for the Rams, and it’s time to see if they can build off their outstanding effort over St. Louis over the weekend. We’re only a few hours away from finding out.